Wednesday, October 25, 2006

...Three Blind Mice by Billy Collins

No poem last week as I was on vacation. This week’s poem by Billy Collins is light and accessible. Collins is a rare poet: charismatic, attention-loving and even funny. He has appeared numerous times on NPR. I saw him read in San Francisco a few years back and the crowd (of maybe 300?!) treated him like a rock star. He’s quite the poetry celebrity. You’ve probably never heard of him though, which says a lot about poetry celebrity.

Collins' work is clear, clever, and often moving. You’ll notice that there isn’t much complexity to his style, and I wouldn’t consider his work to be musical, but I think it’s enjoyable. And he’s found a way to appeal to a wider audience, something few poets have been able to achieve lately. A friend of mine once pointed out (exasperated) that he writes all of his poems in his house, usually in his bathrobe. This is true. But he has an active imagination.



I Chop Some Parsley While Listening To Art Blakey’s Version Of “Three Blind Mice”
By Billy Collins

And I start wondering how they came to be blind.
If it was congenital, they could be brothers and sister,
and I think of the poor mother
brooding over her sightless young triplets.

Or was it a common accident, all three caught
in a searing explosion, a firework perhaps?
If not,
if each came to his or her blindness separately,

how did they ever manage to find one another?
Would it not be difficult for a blind mouse
to locate even one fellow mouse with vision
let alone two other blind ones?

And how, in their tiny darkness,
could they possibly have run after a farmer’s wife
or anyone else’s wife for that matter?
Not to mention why.

Just so she could cut off their tails
with a carving knife, is the cynic’s answer,
but the thought of them without eyes
and now without tails to trail through the moist grass

or slip around the corner of a baseboard
has the cynic who always lounges within me
up off his couch and at the window
trying to hide the rising softness that he feels.

By now I am on to dicing an onion
which might account for the wet stinging
in my own eyes, though Freddie Hubbard’s
mournful trumpet on “Blue Moon,”
which happens to be the next cut,
cannot be said to be making matters any better.




Billy Collins was born in New York City in 1941. He served as the Poet Laureate in 2001 and is the author of several books of poetry.




Art Blakey
Freddie Hubbard

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Billy Collins has a fascination with mice. They show up in an astounding number of his poems.

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